in·​con·​gru·​ous | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs How to pronounce incongruous (audio) \

Definition of incongruous

: lacking congruity: such as
a : not harmonious : incompatible incongruous colors
b : not conforming : disagreeing conduct incongruous with principle
c : inconsistent within itself an incongruous story
d : lacking propriety : unsuitable incongruous manners

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from incongruous

incongruously adverb
incongruousness noun

Did you know?

Incongruous is a spin-off of its antonym, congruous, which means "in agreement, harmony, or correspondence." Etymologists are in agreement about the origin of both words; they trace to the Latin verb congruere, which means "to come together" or "to agree." The dates of the words' first uses in English match up pretty well, too. The first known use of congruous dates from 1599, and the earliest print appearance of incongruous dates from 1611.

Examples of incongruous in a Sentence

There is something incongruous about Oslo. — Hugh C. McDonald, The Hour of the Blue Fox, 1975 … it would be as incongruous to meet her at the end of a chapter as it would be to see the dawn break in the west … — Herman Wouk, Aurora Dawn, 1947 He ate enormously, with a zest which seemed incongruous with his spare frame. — Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark, 1915 His outburst seemed incongruous to those who know him well. there's an incongruous modernism to the actor's performance in this period piece
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Sammy Alloush, 40, has lived across the street from the incongruous-looking 14th Street oil rig for six months and has become accustomed to it. Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2021 Some women tried seemingly incongruous combinations such as soy and tomatoes—originating in Asia and the Americas, respectively—alongside indigenous African varieties such as finger millet. Raj Patel, Scientific American, 22 Sep. 2021 The Big 12 now actually will have 12 members, not 10, which is about the only thing that makes sense right now in the increasingly incongruous world of collegiate athletics. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2021 The snaking chain in vivid turquoise glass is exaggerated in scale, focusing attention on the form of the links and the incongruous use of such a fragile material. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 There was this huge living room and a blazing fire, and one very incongruous lady. Ben Lerner, The New York Review of Books, 25 Feb. 2021 Making claims that are incongruous with the consumer’s lived experience. Neil Bedwell, Forbes, 29 Sep. 2021 For Monisha Clifton, that redirection was an incongruous combination of prayer and pie. Leslie Barker, Dallas News, 28 Sep. 2021 As incongruous as this image appears, Miranda Maria treats Cristovam’s carnivalesque turn with requisite reverence — with menace, even. Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 7 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incongruous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of incongruous

1582, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incongruous

Late Latin incongruus, from Latin in- + congruus congruous

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About incongruous

Time Traveler for incongruous

Time Traveler

The first known use of incongruous was in 1582

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About incongruous

Dictionary Entries Near incongruous




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for incongruous

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incongruous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incongruous



English Language Learners Definition of incongruous

: strange because of not agreeing with what is usual or expected


in·​con·​gru·​ous | \ in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs How to pronounce incongruous (audio) \

Kids Definition of incongruous

: not proper, suitable, or in harmony incongruous colors

More from Merriam-Webster on incongruous

Nglish: Translation of incongruous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incongruous for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!